A Brooklyn Park Honda dealer has agreed to pay $50,000 to 64 customers who unknowingly bought new cars that were damaged, either while on the lot or in transit to the dealer, the Attorney General's office announced yesterday.
Brown's Honda City Honda, in the 5800 block of Ritchie Highway, repaired the cars before selling them. But the dealer's failure to disclose that they had been damaged may violate Maryland's Consumer Protection Act, the announcement said.
"They have to tell the consumer the car was damaged," explained Assistant Attorney General Lucy A. Weisz. "Some people may still want the car, but may want to pay a little less. Others may want a perfectly new car. It is our position that the consumer should have the choice and not the dealer."
Rick Baker, Brown's controller, refused to comment yesterday.
A news release distributed by the Attorney General's office said the dealership denies violating Maryland law but has agreed "to disclose to all prospective new car buyers the nature of any damage to a new vehicle it is offering for sale."
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said the 64 sales investigated by his office occurred between 1989 and 1991. He said the dealership started informing buyers about damaged cars after the probe began two years ago.
The statement says the damage ranged from a dented door that cost $74 to repair to a vandalized car that had more than $2,000 in damage.
Mr. Curran said dealerships must not only tell buyers that a car was damaged, but also list all parts and materials used in the repair and the retail cost of the repairs.
Consumers entitled to the refund will be notified within two weeks.
The attorney general's statement said each buyer is to receive the cost of the repairs that were less than $100; twice the repair cost for damage estimated between $100 and $499; and three times the repair cost for repairs between $500 and $999.
If the cost of the repair was more than $1,000, the dealership must offer the consumer the option of receiving four times the repair cost, returning the car and receiving a refund of the full purchase price, or exchanging the car for a new 1993 model with the same options.